It was good to see the Libraries Connected Awards this week. They served several purposes, including sharing best practice, publicising the sector, putting the best face on at a challenging time, and of course rewarding and recognising staff. These are all good things and especially necessary at the moment when public libraries at the frontline level are in a worrying time. It’s clear that while usage is very different between services and even between branches, many services are still seeing reduced usage compared to two years ago, sometimes significantly so. This needs addressing by more than Awards. Frequent readers will know my desire for a national publicity campaign, increased (or at least no more cuts) in funding and a reappraisal of normal library practices such as fines and requiring ID for joining. Awards are not much compared to that. But it’s a start. I look forward to more.

National news

  • 10 November – What’s new? What’s next? – Library Campaign. “Here’s your chance to catch up on all the news you need to know. The Library Campaign aims to give library users and Friends a complete one-stop update, via Zoom. Plus a chance to discuss it all. A lot has happened in public libraries since our last Zoom in May. More is due to happen in the next few weeks. By November 10 we may have a clearer picture of the immediate future –  good and bad. So – what happens next? Where do library users come in? There will be plenty to discuss… You don’t have to be a TLC member to join in.”
  • Baby Babble (A NAG webinar week event) – National Acquisitions Group. Tuesday 9 November 11am. “Baby Babble is a five-week programme for babies aged around 4 to 9 months and their parents/carers. The sessions, developed with speech and language therapists and led by Derbyshire Sure Start librarians, are fun and interactive with activities and ideas to encourage babies’ early communication skills, speech and language. This webinar gives a brief background to the sessions and an overview of pre-pandemic provision. It will go on to illustrate how the librarians have adapted the delivery of the sessions to ensure continuity during the past 18 months, and to secure its delivery for the future.”
  • The Booker Prize Libraries Shortlist event – Reading Agency. “Libraries, colleges and secondary schools are invited to register to host an exclusive shortlist event. Hosted by Coventry University and chaired by Lemn Sissay, the event will feature live readings and a Q&A with the six shortlisted authors. More information about the shortlisted books can be found here.  Participating libraries will receive a link to stream the event. This can either be shown live (29 October, 7-8.30pm) or as a recording in the following days before the winner is announced on 3 November. Participating libraries will also receive additional materials including information about the shortlisted books and a quiz to use during your event. Please fill in this survey to register your interest to host a shortlist streaming event. You can also download a free digital pack to help promote the Prize in your library.”
  • Creating an Impactful and Viable Sustainability Plan – Libraries Knowledge Network. Thursday November 4, 1pm – 2pm. “Join Sara Kassam, Sustainability Lead at the V&A in London, to explore the key principles behind creating a viable sustainability plan. With practical examples and advice, this webinar aims to inspire impactful changes that will support your planning and help underpin your Library’s green initiatives.”
  • Directions for public library technology – Ken Chad Consulting. Survey. “Consolidation of library tech vendors doesn’t seem to be a big issue for librarians. Is that your view? What do you see as the key library tech trends/issues?”

Libraries Connected Awards winners announced – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected is delighted to announce the winners of its first ever awards to recognise and celebrate the achievements of library staff over the past year.”:

Health & Wellbeing Award: The Death Positive Library Project Team, Vision Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle. For their work promoting the role of libraries as powerful and compassionate spaces to support conversations around death, dying and bereavement.

Reading Award: Laura Smith, Library Apprentice, City of London Libraries. For her work developing the ‘What Next? Book Recommendation Quiz’ that enables users to get recommendations for eBooks which resulted in a significant increase in eBook loans.

Culture and Creativity Award: Sam Whitehouse, Customer Service Assistant, Wakefield Libraries. For his work on the ‘Cinema in the Library,’ a Libraries Connected Yorkshire and Humber funded project that provides free cultural experiences to local people.  

Information & Digital Award: Basia Godel, Library Assistant, North Yorkshire Libraries. For her work on community cohesion and racial justice during Black History Month by curating an event on the contribution of black people to North Yorkshire and diversifying the library stock.

Children’s Promise Award: Shaun Doyle, Library Assistant, North Yorkshire Libraries. For his work in establishing the Young Adult Library Team made up of younger members of library staff who help the service to reach out more effectively to young people and young LGBTQ people.

Vision and Print Impaired People’s Promise Award: Helen Cunningham, Access and Inclusion Librarian, Derbyshire Libraries. For her work in transforming Buxton Library Listening Group for people with sight loss to 

  • Post Pandemic Panaceas: the role of libraries’ initiatives and impact on the young generation – EuroLis. “The seminar will seek to explore the effect that library closures due to the pandemic had on children and how libraries have reacted. Through online presentations from European speakers, we will learn what creative strategies of connecting young audiences and other digital outreach programs European librarians have come up with and the impact on children’s learning and development.” 3, 10 and 17 November, 4 to 6pm, online conference.
  • Reading Partners Roadshow – Reading Agency. “The Roadshows are an opportunity for librarians and teachers to hear from 29 of our publishing partners about their latest titles, meet authors, and have the chance to ask questions about promotional opportunities. The Children’s Reading Partners Roadshow will take place on Wednesday 10 November and the Adult Reading Partners Roadshow will take place on Thursday 11 November.”
  • Reviving our High Streets: The Role of Libraries – Lorensbergs. “This paper explores the relationship between libraries and high streets. It draws upon the perspectives and plans of several public library authorities and identifies how libraries can bring practical support and a brighter future to our town centres. It includes input from the library services of Bolton, Brent, Fife, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and North Somerset, who all contributed their perspectives on how their services are being developed to the benefit of their wider environment. Together their examples show how libraries are providing brighter horizons for all those who live in, work and visit our town and city centres.”
  • The terrifying future of Wales’ decimated councils, where millions are being lost each month and broken staff are in short supply – Wales Online. “In Cardiff, 300 staff from St David’s Hall and from the call centre were working on Test, Trace, Protect. The head of libraries was managing the distribution of PPE across the city.”

International new

  • USA – Librarians to the Defense – Progressive. “Despite the challenges, the American Library Association, EveryLibrary, the Progressive Library Guild, #SaveNilesLibrary, and librarians, library workers, and patrons nationwide agree that preserving public libraries as citadels of free thought and intellectual freedom is imperative, and doing so comes down to something basic: community organizing.”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Boffins will use Pokemon Go-style technology to bring Bradford’s history to life – Telegraph and Argus. “Bradford Council’s Libraries Service will be taking part in the project, which will see audiences travel back in time via computer enhanced special effects to experience local events where they actually happened.”
  • Calderdale – Flagship development of existing Northgate site to transform future of Halifax – News Centre. [Correspondent reports that “When the Council wished to relocate the Library the buildings were declared ‘unfit for purpose’ and only worthy of demolition. Once the Library had been relocated the former Library building was refurbished as a Sixth-form College. The Council Offices, as you will read, are now refurbished as retail space. The new Central Library is one-third less floor area than the former Library. Services such a bibliographic services, reserve book stock and the School’s service are decentralised at two separate sites one mile distant from the new Library. The former Library was on a prime central site which is now being praised as such for the sixth-form College and retail development.”]
  • Cheshire East – Council offers young people chance to work on digital arts project – Cheshire East Council. “Cheshire East Council’s libraries team is seeking young people from Crewe aged between 11-16 to get involved in a new library-based digital arts project. Luminate Youth is an after-school digital project and Arts Council England funded programme which gives young people an opportunity to try a range of digital arts activities, including: coding, e-textiles, paper circuitry, electronics and digital light art. “
  • Devon – Devon’s libraries ensure county’s traditional folklore is not forgotten – Devon Live. The Folklore Library & Archive has announced it will work with Devon Libraries in order to provide a physical site for its important reference library and document archives at Crediton Library.”
  • Essex – Family Learning Fair comes to Rayleigh Library – Leigh Times. “Simply drop-in and learn new methods to support your child’s learning, fun ways for children to develop their language and communication skills as well as access to free online learning resources.”
  • Greenwich -Better Libraries Recognised In National Awards – Better. Runner up in Health and Wellbeing for Libraries Connected Awards. “Better’s Greenwich Libraries are the home of the Football Library project that has seen dozens of library loans of good quality footballs – made in Kenya by social enterprise ball manufacturer Alive and Kicking. The initiative helps youngsters in Greenwich get more active and socially confident through play, while helping build sustainable communities in Africa. The scheme has been so successful it has now been extended to Better libraries in Bromley and Wandsworth since May 2021.”
  • Oldham – Royton Town Hall and Library revamp finally underway after pandemic delays – Manchester Evening News. “Work to transform the iconic Royton Town Hall and Library into a multi-use community hub has begun. The project will breathe new life into the town hall and adjoining library to create a welcoming, family-friendly venue in the heart of the town, Oldham town hall bosses say. As well as creating an improved library area and better community rooms, there will also be space for a local business to launch.”
  • Isle of Wight – Out on an Island present ‘Our Stories Matter’ documentary with free coffee and croissants – On the Wight. “Thanks to everyone who came along to StoneCrabs’ Out On An Island Pop Up Cafe in Lord Louis Library, Newport on Saturday. Also thanks to library staff who showed  how easy it is to join the library and access books and audiobooks.”
  • Northamptonshire – Kettering gallery, library and museum project starting to take shape – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Plans for a refurbished gallery and improved library in Kettering’s town centre are picking up pace this month – with builders laying steel foundations and new visuals unveiled.” … “It was back in August 2020 that funding was first approved for the project, with South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) awarding £3m from the Government’s Getting Building Fund (GBF) to redevelop the town’s Alfred East Art Gallery and library which sit adjacent to the Manor House Museum.” [A correspondent notes “Lots of money being spent here but most of our community-managed libraries still have to pay rent to the two Unitary Councils unless a town council or other organisation has bought the building” – Ed.]
  • Northern Ireland – Ministers extol virtues of reading to mark Book Week – Coleraine Chronicle. “The First Minister was at Lisburn City Library while the deputy First Minister visited Cookstown Library. They met staff, as well as representatives from Libraries NI and the BBC, who are jointly coordinating Book Week.”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries Connected awards for top library workers – Northern Echo. “North Yorkshire’s youngest librarians have been crowned winners in an awards scheme that celebrate the achievements of people working in libraries. Basia Godel, 25, won the Information and Digital category and Shaun Doyle, 23, scooped the Children and Young People award in North Yorkshire County Council’s Libraries Connected scheme.”
  • Slough – Slough library consultation will only ‘reduce services’, Tory councillor claims – Slough Express. ““The consultation is clearly about reducing services but not about improving the library services. “All the options we have are either to reduce the hours, reduce the staff or close the buildings. “There’s no option for improving the services.”” but “Council leader James Swindlehurst said: “People are cynical about consultations and think we have decided an answer before we go out which is absolutely not the case in this instance.”
  • Somerset – Library set to close until the new year – West Somerset Free Press. “During refurbishment of the Bancks Street library, which started in March, books and library services were moved to temporary accommodation in the Old Hospital building. Now the county council library service has decided that the hospital building is not suitable for winter use and library users will be asked to renew items online or use other libraries in Somerset.”
  • Suffolk – Heaven & Hell: Sylvia Knights – Eastern Daily Press. “A director of Suffolk Libraries since its creation in 2012, she is passionate about the value of books and learning”
    • New library set to open on site of former middle school – Ipswich Star. “Families in Needham Market will soon be able to step inside the town’s new library, which is set to open in November on the former site of the town’s middle school. Funded by Mid Suffolk District Council, the new library will be more spacious than the current location and will also have bookable meeting rooms. “
  • Swindon – 27 targets Swindon Borough Council wants to achieve by 2025 – Swindon Advertiser. “Parks and open spaces, waste collection and recycling and the council-run libraries service were the services that most people were most satisfied with. “
  • Worcestershire – Spooky activities on offer at Tenbury Wells Library this half-term – Malvern Observer. “Monster Mania Story Time, involving stories, mask making and colouring, will be among the activities on offer”
  • York – Residents are being invited to have their say on plans for a new home for a Library York Mix. “Haxby and Wigginton Library has been without a permanent base for the last 5 years – but now it has found a potential home at Oaken Grove Community Centre. Residents are being invited to have their say on the location. Over the past 18 months, the Council, along with Explore York, has been working with Oaken Grove Community Centre to develop plans to permanently co-locate the library inside the Community Centre..”